Congratulations to 96 Wave, of the Apex Broadcasting Company, on winning top spot in this year's City Paper readers' poll. I've enjoyed listening to the station over that last two years, since I moved back to town from Ga., although I can't say I've been listening much lately.
I did happen upon a colorful post from Apex Broadcasting staffer "Myspace Nick" on the station's Myspace blog (www.myspace.com/96wave) last week that seemed a bit grouchy, if not outright hostile. It seems a feature covering the win ruffled some feathers.
Myspace Nick posted an announcement to their supporters that read, "You all collectively voted us, 96 Wave, Charleston's Best Radio Station! We are forever in debt to you and shall forth name our children after all of you! However, there is a naysayer saying nay! T. Ballard Lesemann. He works for City Paper."
Hey, thanks for the acknowledgement.
"He wrote up the article announcing our continued dominance of your ears," he says. "As the beautiful and talented Wendy Rollins [an evening Wave DJ and, according to her, the station's new music director] says, 'If you aren't into what the Wave is doing that's cool, however, it takes a real douchebag to ask someone for their opinion and then tell them they are wrong.'"
Well, I didn't tell anyone they were wrong: I just wondered if they were a bit dazed and confused. In a write-up on the Best Radio Station category in last week's issue, I pointed out that while the majority of City Paper readers officially chose 96 Wave as the Best Local Radio Station, things at Wave over the last year have been tumultuous: they tinkered with the format, dismissed the "Storm & Kenny Radio Show," lost staffers and guest personalities, added "Free Beer & Hot Wings" to the morning slot, and kicked the Sunday specialty shows around. I also criticized some of the changes in similar fashion to what many writers did in last week's issue with other category winners.
"While I understand journalistic freedom, I also understand journalistic integrity," Nick says. "What Mr. Lesemann did smacks in the face of the readers. You don't say your readers are wrong for their opinion just because you may have a different one, as can be assumed by his appearance on 98X later on in the day. That's favoritism. That's poor journalism, as is the lack of fact checking in his piece."
He goes on to list a few examples of what's been played and what kinda-sorta has not and asks the "loyal and lovely Wave listeners" to write the music office with complaints. I didn't mean to smack anyone in the face with anything; I meant to toss out the idea that Wave is on a weird auto-pilot phase.
"Let him know that you don't appreciate his uncalled-for bashing of what the majority of Charleston considers good radio," he adds, "and that he should leave his personal bias at the door when writing up a fact piece and, even if begrudgingly, congratulate the fair winner." Hell yeah, bring it, bo.
But, hey, it wasn't a "fact piece" in the first place. The City Paper writers were assigned to write opinion pieces and features about the readers' pick. As a former Wave fan who's trying to keep an open mind and an open ear through all the shifts, I expressed my lowering opinions of the state of things.
Other than suggesting that some voters pick the same stuff out of habit, I really barely bashed anyone other than the station itself. Actually, I feel sympathy for the loyal Wave listeners who feel confused, disregarded, frustrated, and put off by the awkward, unpredictable, unexplained changes that keep popping up.
Wendy Rollins added the comment, "Can I just buy you a beer and throw the empty bottle at Lesemann?" Heh, heh.
Commercial radio is a tough game. I appreciate the effort and time the real music fans at the station put into things -- I just hope that the true spirt of the station doesn't dissolve in a quest for ratings and dollars. This bottle-dodging douchebag wishes you all good luck ... and a nongrudgeful congratulations.
Check out www.96wave.com and listen for Wendy Rollins between 3-7 p.m. on weekdays.